Posts filed under Montblanc

Montblanc Blue Hour Ink Review

Twilight at Caprock Canyons, Texas

Twilight at Caprock Canyons, Texas

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Montblanc "Blue Hour" or "Twilight" is "linked to the 'blue hour,' the time when the day turns to night," according to Montblanc's website. The ink comes in a 30ml square glass bottle adorned with the Montblanc emblem on the cap. It is a limited edition ink.

When I first saw a sample of this ink, I couldn't wait to purchase a bottle. It looked lovely with deep blue-green tones, sheen, and shading. I love blue inks, and I expected great things from Montblanc Blue Hour.

But when I inked my first pen with Blue Hour, I was disappointed. The ink didn't have the depth I was expecting. Where was the sheen? Where was the shading? And, worst of all, after I wrote a few pages and the ink dried, it faded to a sort of dusty bluish-green. You can see in the picture below how the ink is deep blue when it's fresh and dusty blue-green when it has dried.

I tried it in several different pens with various nib sizes and grew more disappointed. Broad nibs bring out the shading, but the ink was dry and unsaturated in my finer nibs.

The only way I was able to get sheen from the ink was in droplets. None of my writing samples, even with my super broad, flexible music nib, exhibited any sheen.

Chromatography demonstrates that the ink has blue, green, and yellow tones. I expected it to be more of a blue-black, but it leans more towards teal.

Blue Hour is not a wet, highly-saturated ink. When you do a smear test, it dries quickly. Obviously, the dry times will be longer with broader nibs, but not by much. The ink is not waterproof.

When I first used Blue Hour, I thought it resembled Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo. The two inks look similar, but Tsuki-Yo has more green and the color definitely doesn't fade. Tsuki-Yo also flows better, especially in fine nibs.

I'm glad Blue Hour came in the smaller 30ml bottle, because this is not an ink I will use much. After falling in love with Montblanc Toffee, I genuinely thought this would be a terrific ink. But it is dry; it fades, and it simply fails to impress.

Posted on August 7, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Montblanc.

Montblanc Toffee Brown Ink Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Montblanc Toffee Brown is a gorgeous brown ink with lots of character. It comes in a hefty Montblanc bottle with the MB star on the cap.

Some describe the bottle as a shoe shape. I honestly don't see a shoe–if it is a shoe, it's a clunky one. I just assumed that the shape was practical: you have a smaller reservoir when the ink runs low. But that will take a while. This bottle holds 60ml of ink.

The ink flows well, has no detectable odor, and no negative qualities that I could find. When compared with my two other brown inks (Iroshizuku Yama-guri and Tsukushi), Toffee had shades of green and pink in it. Yama-guri is more of a black-brown, and Tsukushi is a reddish-brown. Toffee is what I would call a golden-brown, though it does have pink/red tones.

Montblanc Toffee is now the standard ink for my M800 Tortoise with its triple broad oblique nib. Oh. My. Gosh. Just look at that shading! It has gradations from dark brown to toffee (thus the name).

The ink is not waterproof. Its dry times depend on the width of your nib, but the ink seems to be pretty wet. With this kind of shading, though, I don't mind waiting for the ink to dry.

I never thought I'd be a "brown ink person" (I gravitate towards blues). But I also tend to be a little OCD about inks matching my pens and vice versa. So, for my brown pens, I use brown inks. Toffee Brown has replaced the Iroshizukus at least for my broad nib. The color and shading are simply outstanding. But for my finer nibs, I still like Yama-guri and Tsukushi. I guess I just need to buy more brown pens!

Posted on June 5, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Montblanc.

Montblanc JFK Navy Blue Ink Review

One of the readers of this blog is an ink junkie. I know this because I have received some of the most interesting, hard to find, limited, and discontinued ink samples in my mailbox from him. Sometimes I get the heads up, and sometimes, as was the case with this Montblanc JFK Navy Blue, they just show up.

I’m glad it did too, because this is a pretty great ink. While it isn’t marketed as blue black, one stroke with it makes it clear that it is. The blue is deep, with nice grey undertones. It’s by no means a pure dark blue, which is what I would think an ink named navy blue would dictate.

It reminds me a lot of Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai not just in the way it looks, but in the way it shades and the way it performs. There is so much sublte character with inks like these and I think that is why I fall for them. To the naked eye they look like a normal business ink, but upon closer inspection there is a depth and uniqueness you don’t see in any blue ink.

I used up two fills from the sample vial before I went on the hunt to order some for my own stash. It’s a limited edition so you will have to poke around a little bit, but it shouldn’t be too hard to come by. I ordered mine from Fahrney’s Pens, which worked out swimmingly.

One note on the written review below: I used Tomoe River paper, and while it is flat out amazing for dailiy use, it’s not the best for reviews. It crinkles a bit, which manifests itself in odd lighting and shadows, and takes forever to dry, so dry time tests are invalid. I realized all of this once I was done, so after one other review that is already complete I will be moving my ink reviews back to a more standard paper.

Posted on January 23, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Montblanc.

Guest Review: Vintage 1950s Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Fountain Pen

(This is a guest review by Blake Feinstein. You can find more from Blake at The Unroyal Warrant.)

If you are reading this blog you likely have a grail pen, something that you think is beyond or in some way more exciting than what is in your current collection. I have been collecting fountain pens for almost 10 years now and I strive to buy great writers over anything else. With the help of some friends at the Fountain Pen Network I landed on the Montblanc 146, specifically one from the early 1950s as the pens of this era had the most appealing features of the Meisterstück (masterpiece) line: a celluloid body, a softer 14C gold nib, and the flat ebonite “ski slope” style feed.

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The 146 is a piston fill fountain pen that is larger than the 144 (Classique) and smaller than the 149. Compared with the modern 146 (often referred to as the “LeGrand”) the vintage 146 is slightly shorter with a shapelier barrel and deeper engravings on the gold furniture. The vintage 146 also has a larger more attractive two-tone 14-carat gold nib.

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Vintage 146 Nib on the left, modern 146 nib on the right.

The 146 fits comfortably in my hand and weighs approximately 26 grams full of ink, and 18.5 grams uncapped. This pen does not post well. I have to apply more pressure than I would like to get the cap to sit straight on the body so I usually write with it uncapped. At 4.75” uncapped and just under 5.5” capped (not posted) it’s average sized and will be comfortable for most people to use.

The nib is the softest non-flex nib that I have used and provides some mild line variation. The buttery soft springy writing experience makes the 146 one of my favorite fountain pens. The nib writes wide and wet for a fine. The pen always starts right away and does not skip. I have left the cap off for over a half hour and it started without a hitch.

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The vintage 146 uses a unique two-stage piston filling system that holds a lot of ink. You unscrew the piston knob, which will come up away from the body, but this does not move the piston. You keep twisting until you feel a transition at this point the knob becomes harder to turn (but still smooth) and no longer moves away from the body; it is at this stage that the piston moves. The mechanism behind this is complicated and likely discontinued due to cost. One weak point is the cork piston head; it is likely less durable than the synthetic ones found in most modern pens.

Being around 60 years old there is some loss of plate on the gold furniture but overall it is in great shape. If you look closely you can see that the nib tines are not in perfect alignment but the pen writes without a hitch so I haven’t been in a huge rush to get it to a nibmeister.

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The prices of these pens have been going up and can be bought between $500-$700 on auction sites and for around $900 from a reputable dealer of vintage pens (I highly recommend the latter option). I bought mine on an auction site and got lucky as my pen turned out to be in great shape and functioned wonderfully.

To me the price is worth it as it offers a fantastic writing experience with an elegant high quality body but these pens can be tricky to buy and even trickier to fix if you get a bad one. I highly recommend the vintage 146 to experienced fountain pen users.

Posted on January 15, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Montblanc.